Housing is needed to provide people with shelter from wind, rain, cold, and danger, and a sanctuary in which to be born, grow, and learn (Kothari et al. 2006; UN-HABITAT 2014). With transformations and improvements arising from socioeconomic developments, people’s demands for housing have become more complex and diversified. They are no longer looking for a physical building alone; they also expect a residential environment of good quality. Concurrently, quality housing reflects a higher standard of living. Quality housing ensures a residence that will provide a place of refuge and rest, which contributes to individuals’ health (World Health Organization 2018). In addition to housing quality, residents have expectations and needs regarding the quality of the surrounding environment and the management of the residential community.
Individuals have different priorities when purchasing a house and deciding on a residential location, depending on their characteristics (Han and Wang 1995) and financial capabilities. However, a common and important requirement is the quality of the residential environment—part of which is determined by the residential landscape. The quality of the landscape around a residence is reflected in the value of the land and housing price and has become one of the factors affecting the selection of and satisfaction with a residential location. The quality of a residential environment can reflect residents’ psychological well-being (Manca et al. 2019), sense of fulfillment, and the degree to which their social (World Health Organization 2010) and basic needs are met. The quality of a living environment not only indicates happiness (Molinsky and Forsyth 2018) in the same way of gross domestic product and economic growth indicators, but also reflects the concern and satisfaction with one’s quality of life (QOL). Residents expect a high-quality residential environment, and the benefits (or lack thereof) of a residential landscape are vital.
The purpose of this research was to study the impact of residential landscape on residents’ QOL. A survey based on a structured questionnaire was conducted to analyze and understand residents’ expectations and needs for their residential landscape, the importance of the residential landscape to them when selecting a residential location, and the factors affecting their QOL. The factors affecting residents’ perception and attitudes of the benefits of residential landscape were also examined. This led to a deeper understanding of the way residential landscape affects residents’ expectations of their residential environments. Through the findings of this research, we can better understand that emphasizing the residential landscape not only improves residents’ QOL but also improves the quality of the urban landscape (Bonaiuto et al. 2015; Skalicky and Čerpes 2019). For example, a residential landscape full of flowers and trees adds beauty and greenery to an urban landscape.
Requirements for a Residential Environment and Factors Affecting its Selection
A residential environment includes all tangible and intangible factors related to residential living. It encompasses physical (the actual facilities) and non-physical (the various conditions or backgrounds) aspects. The horizontal spatial hierarchy of residential environments can be categorized into the following environments: indoor, housing, neighborhood and community, and urban and regional. Among these, the housing environment is slightly larger in scale than the indoor environment. The former includes the natural environment (such as sunshine, wind direction, and terrain/topography), housing orientation, public spaces, surrounding roads, treatment of ground surfaces, and public facilities (such as water, sewage and waste treatments, and energy supply [Hsieh and Huang 1998; Wu 1993]). A residential environment must be properly zoned based on spatial hierarchy to ensure sufficient supplies and quantities of basic facilities (Skalicky and Čerpes 2019). Furthermore, owing to improvements in the quality and quantity of the supply and demand of the residential environment, residents can feel comfortable, happy, safe, and hygienic (Keles 2012; Tsai and Hu 1994). Therefore, a well-planned residential environment that considers the layout and provision of rooms, the residential environment, and all the facilities can meet residents’ needs and improve the quality of their residential environment (Skalicky and Čerpes 2019; Ye 2009), and enhance the beauty of the urban landscape (Scyphers and Lerman 2014).
Requirements for a residential environment vary depending on the specific characteristics of the residents. Nevertheless, there are various factors that generally affect selection of a residential environment. Tsai and Hsu (1994) proposed that five types of factors affect the selection of a residential environment: family, economic, social, internal housing environment, and external community environment. Their research used the weight of various factors affecting the residential environment to approach what factors were valued. The results indicated that the most important factors were health (including lighting, privacy, management, and external appearance of the building) and comprehensiveness of environmental facilities (including proper roads, venues for socialization in the neighborhood, level of greening, and size of the living area).
Yang and Chiang (1993) conducted a study from the perspective of maximizing consumer utility and found that the factors affecting the selection of a residential location included proximity to local public facilities, physical nature of the house itself, accessibility to transportation facilities, and the size of the house and its surroundings. Robinson (1979) proposed that the following factors affected housing prices: characteristics of the residential location, physical environmental attributes of the residential community, characteristics of the neighborhood, socioeconomic background of the community residents, residents’ behaviors in housing selection, and spatial distribution of the residences. Su et al. (1977) conducted a large-scale investigation into the factors affecting land prices in Taipei and found that the main factors were: distance from the city center, nearest neighborhood commercial district, nearest park, nearest sewage treatment plant, and width of the road that the residence faces. Hsieh et al. (2000) noted that the land prices and real estate values of immovable properties in Hsinchu City increased with proximity to neighboring parks, thereby confirming an external environmental benefit of well-developed green parks. A green environment (e.g., a park) in a neighborhood was significantly associated with residents’ health benefits, including self-rated health conditions (Tzoulas et al. 2007; Won and Lee 2020), mental health, stress levels (Gascon et al. 2015; Won and Lee 2020), and obesity ( Ellaway et al. 2005; Won and Lee 2020). A few studies also found significant associations between perceived neighborhood environments (e.g., green space, a place to exercise, safety from crime, and street cleanliness) and social capital (Lee et al. 2018; Won and Lee 2020; Yoo and Lee 2016). Further, in the selection of residential locations, increased attention is being paid to the beauty and comfort of the surrounding residential landscape and how it enhances the quality of the residential environment. Therefore, this study explored some factors affecting residential and investigated the benefits of residential landscape on the quality of residential environments.
QOL and Residential Environments
Keles (2012) believed that environmental quality is one of the most important components of QOL. Aragonés et al. (2017) mentioned that residential satisfaction is an indicator of well-being and a subjective QOL; that is, those with good residential quality will have a good QOL. The quality of the residential environment is one of the key items in the pursuit of QOL (Kesalkheh and Dadashpoor 2012). The quality of a residential environment is determined by multiple components including nature, open space, infrastructures, the built environment, facilities of the physical environment, and natural reserves—each of which has unique characteristics and quality (Keles 2012). Based on van Poll’s (1997) definition, residential environmental quality is a subjective value concept, which is determined by an individual’s satisfaction with the house, neighborhood, and neighbors (Kesalkheh and Dadashpoor 2012). The scope of factors affecting the residential environment is extensive and complex; however, the most important consideration is the degree of habitability (Wu 1993). Chapin and Hightower (1965) indicated that a good residential environment should have well-appointed physical and non-physical conditions. Physical conditions may include the built environment, house appearance, interior decoration and equipment, public facilities, natural environment, and the landscape surrounding the house. Non-physical conditions may include harmonious neighbor relations, community services, economic development, residential life culture, and residential amenity. Further, they explored the factors related to a residential location, and they found that individuals’ satisfaction with basic life necessities and personal demands can be used to define the value-system relating to the quality of the residential environment (Chapin and Hightower 1965).
QOL relates to the well-being of people and the good quality of the residential environment (Keles 2012). It is a level of satisfaction or happiness based on the realization of subjective psychological desires, including personal values, goals, beliefs, and needs. Concerning residential environment, there are sufficient and universal public facilities and services to meet individuals’ daily needs (Kelles 2012; Kesalkheh and Dadashpoor 2012; Wu 1993). In a study on Taichung residents’ perceived quality of the residential environment, Sun (1994) found that residents of Taichung City paid the most attention to the residential environment and public security, and the least amount of attention to daily shopping places. The living environment was not only the most important but parks and open spaces, public security, and road safety around a residential environment were also important attributes that could enhance QOL.
The WHO and the American Public Health Association’s Committee on Housing and Health proposed that a good residential environment should satisfy various requirements including safety, health, urban pollution prevention, convenience, and amenity (Han and Wang 1995; Krieger and Higgins 2002; Lian 1990; World Health Organization 2018). Thus, to improve the quality of the residential environment, in addition to achieving these good residential environment conditions, it is necessary to improve people’s living standards and strengthen living awareness. Living awareness is residents’ motivations, attitudes, needs, and expectations concerning the living environment. Residents who live in the same area develop a sense of psychological identification with the area because improving the quality of the residential environment requires residents to cooperate to maintain it (Chu and Lin 2007). Moreover, identifying ways to improve the quality of residential environments and enhance people’s well-being have become the targets of joint efforts by individuals and social groups.
Residential Landscape and Landscape Perception
The residential landscape is the outdoor area surrounding a house that comprises gardens, yards, and green spaces. It is a place for residents to perform activities and communicate; however, it is also a key component of the urban landscape (Ye 2009). The residential landscape enhances the appearance of the residential environment (Cook et al. 2012). Marcus (1982) noted that a pleasing residential appearance is not associated with any particular housing style, but rather with variety in building height and facades, color, good landscaping, pleasant views from dwellings, a non-institutional appearance, and high levels of maintenance. The landscape and site layout contribute highly to resident satisfaction. The ideal situation for most families is to live in a house with a garden. Alternative or higher density forms of development should therefore offer as many of the benefits of house dwellings as possible (Marcus 1982). Lin (1999) stated that residential quality goes beyond the quality of the house itself, and includes issues related to the service level of public facilities and environmental quality, such as transportation routes, schools, parks, and markets near the house.
To ascertain the conditions being considered when making a housing purchase, Huang (1994) and Hung (1985) identified the following factors related to residential landscape: nearby parks and green spaces, beautification of balconies and the courtyard garden, a beautiful and scenic environment, public recreational facilities, and view of the surrounding landscape from within the home (Lin and Tseng 2000). An issue with the high population concentration and vast amount of land being gradually occupied by buildings and roads is that it leads to the reduction of green spaces and the desertification and deterioration of the urban landscape and environment. The demand for green spaces has thus become more intense for urban living and urban landscapes. The residential landscapes are primary settings of everyday interactions between humans and the environment (Bhatti and Church 2001; Cook et al. 2012). The residential landscape provides important amenities while contributing to both intended and unintended environmental consequences (Cook et al. 2012; Larson et al. 2009; Martin 2008). The residential landscapes examined in this study included all the leisure and recreational facilities around a residential environment and the areas that can be green spaces and beautified, a courtyard garden located in the space next to one’s house and adjacent to other houses, and the parks and green spaces surrounding the residential area.
Residents’ psychological responses (Milfont 2012) arising from the intertwining of their demands and expectations for their residential environment affect residential landscape factors and the environment. Many scholars have confirmed the existence of the impact of the environment on human perception, attitudes, and behaviors (Kaiser et al. 2007; McIntyre and Milfont 2016; Milfont and Duckitt 2010; Voski 2020). After the information and knowledge provided by the environment interact with individuals’ attributes, perceptions, motivations, preferences, demands, expectations, and experiences (Aragonés et al. 2017; Cerina et al. 2017; Manca et al. 2019), different physiological and psychological reactions and processes are generated depending on the characteristics of the individual and the environment. The landscape perception process (Eiter 2010; Kaymaz 2012; van Heijgen 2013) is a psychological experience through which the cognitive observer can understand the physical scenery, spatial functions, and meaning of a place in the surrounding environment through feelings, perceptions, and thoughts toward factors such as the surrounding space, environment, and landscape. Hence, residents have expectations for, preferences for, and experience satisfaction with the residential environment through perception, motivations, attitudes, demands, and other psychological factors. Such an interactive relationship between residents and the residential environment corresponds to residents’ awareness of that environment and their residential behaviors.